For as long as anyone can remember, the State of Kentucky and Horse Racing have been synonymous – from the state’s many horse farms to the world’s most famous horse-racing track, Churchill Downs in Louisville. Several of the 13 thoroughbreds that have won the Triple Crown came through the state’s various training grounds.
Just 65 miles up Interstate 71 from Churchill Downs sits Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, where horsepower of a different kind has been showcased over the years.
One of the very best competitors in the relatively short history of Kentucky Speedway happens to be Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota whose record there has proven to be not unlike the state’s most top-notch thoroughbreds. Busch is always optimistic about his chances to win at one of his best tracks statistically, and he’ll look to score a record third Kentucky win during Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at the 1.5-mile oval.
The 2015 Cup Series champion has notched multiple victories at Kentucky in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions – Cup, Xfinity, and Truck. Add his 2003 ARCA series win at Kentucky and Busch has been victorious in four racing divisions and has made quite a Kentucky home of his own in the Bluegrass State’s second-most-famous victory lane.
While Busch attempts to add yet another win to his Kentucky resume Saturday night, his primary backer M&M’S will be debuting a sweet treat for NASCAR fans – the M&M’S Glampground. The all-inclusive, branded glamping experience includes a turn-key race weekend combined with the colorful fun that only M&M’S can provide. Located in the Kentucky Speedway infield, the experience includes 30 “glamorous camping” tents for fans, along with race tickets, prerace access, and a number of activities and driver appearances, including a visit by Busch. The M&M’S Glampground came about as M&M’S was looking to give new and seasoned racing fans an exclusive experience at NASCAR races. A second M&M’S Glampground will be available for the race weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway next month.
Busch and the No. 18 M&M’S team look forward to their return this weekend to the Kentucky oval, where he won two of the track’s first five races, including its inaugural Cup Series race in 2011 and, most recently, in July 2015. The heavily worn racing surface and quirky Kentucky layout Busch navigated to win both Cup Series races is gone, replaced three seasons ago by a newly repaved surface, along with a slight reconfiguration of turns one and two. Busch managed a fifth-place finish on the new surface in 2016, and he scored his sixth top-10 in seven Kentucky Cup Series races in 2017, along with a fourth-place finish in 2018.
In the inaugural Cup Series event at Kentucky in 2011, Busch proved his worth when he led six times for a race-high 125 laps in becoming the historic first winner in NASCAR’s top series in the state. He enters Saturday night’s race with an average Kentucky finish of 5.0 – the series’ top average finish over the first eight races there. He also leads the series in several statistical categories during that time, including his six top-five finishes and seven top-10s.
Busch’s winning history at Kentucky started way back at the ripe age of 18, when he dominated the 2003 ARCA race while competing for Hendrick Motorsports. He led a race-high 91 laps en route to the victory.
He returned the following year and found victory lane again, this time in his Xfinity Series debut. In all, Busch has three wins, eight top-fives and has led 766 laps in seven Xfinity Series starts at Kentucky. He also won the 2011 and 2014 Truck Series races to give him five top-10 finishes and 310 laps led in six starts there in that division.
While Busch has notched four Cup Series wins thus far this season, as has JGR teammate and fellow championship contender Martin Truex Jr., race fans know Busch won’t be satisfied Saturday night unless he brings back home yet another trophy.
So as the Cup Series makes a swing through the Bluegrass State Saturday night, Busch’s fans are hoping he can bring home not only his third career Kentucky victory, but his fifth win this season.